The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) have joined hands to strengthen Bangladesh's digital financial ecosystem through interventions in policy and regulation, innovation, infrastructure, and skills to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
a2i will play a strategic role in implementing the activities of this partnership.
UNDP's acting Resident Representative, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van and UNCDF's Executive Secretary, Preeti Sinha, inked a Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of a2i's Project Director (Joint Secretary) Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, a2i's Policy Advisor Anir Chowdhury, and UNCDF's regional coordinator for Asia Maria Perdomo at the UNDP's country office at Agargoan, Dhaka Sunday (21 August).
Under the MoU, the organisations will collaborate and leverage UNCDF's financing instruments such as grants, reimbursable grants, loans, and guarantees to provide seed funding to investments for enterprises deemed too small or risky by traditional investors, reads a press release.
Speaking at the event, a2i's Project Director Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir said, "We are moving to Smart Bangladesh after successfully passing the Digital Bangladesh vision. MoU between UNDP and UNCDF and collaboration with a2i will strengthen our future relationship and jointly protect the rights and access of marginalised people, especially women entrepreneurs in digital finance."
They will exchange information to identify and facilitate the development of appropriate capability enhancement tools, products, and strategies needed to enhance the digital and financial skills of the excluded.
This MoU will develop a framework for non-exclusive cooperation and will facilitate and strengthen collaboration in the areas of common interest for the last mile, the release adds.
UNDP's acting Resident Representative Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van, said, "Bangladesh is a poster child in many areas of development. We, the UNDP, see so much potential in this partnership as sound cooperation is essential to make this happen. We don't want to stop here; we want to replicate our initiatives in several other countries."
As an inclusion in the digital era is not a given, the MoU will work in a broader way to establish an inclusive digital economy so that governments can harness digital tools to achieve the SDGs by making digital economies inclusive for the least developed countries (LDCs) like Bangladesh.
UNCDF's Executive Secretary Preeti Sinha said, "We believe UNCDF, a2i and UNDP are catering to a common goal to achieve the inclusive growth of society by strengthening innovative micro-savings, digital access, and digital finance. Other countries should learn from Bangladesh's development experience and knowledge sharing in financial development in the last couple of years. We are looking to see a complete project come out of digital financing."
a2i's Policy Adviser, Anir Chowdhury, said, a2i DFS team works with UNCDF for Mobilising Domestic Savings to finance SDG Infrastructure in Bangladesh and Citizen Centric Green Financing Solutions.
"In a partnership with UNCDF, a2i has recently launched the Financial Innovation Lab called "FinLab BD", which will provide the necessary support to develop fintech-focused startups that can solve the financial challenges of the marginalised segment. Along with these, more than 50,000 CMSMEs are trained online with digital financial literacy courses by ekShop with support from UNCDF. To achieve the vision of a high-income country by 2041, we need to focus on skills by reducing the gap in the digital divide," he added.
Among others, senior officials from UNDP, UNCDF, and a2i were present at the MoU signing ceremony.